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NordVPN vs Hotspot Shield: A Side-by-Side Comparison

VPN marketing can often feel misleading and confusing, and telling top providers like NordVPN and Hotspot Shield apart requires a lot of technical know-how.

Hotspot Shield claims to be the fastest VPN in the world, while NordVPN boasts of being the most advanced. Is there any truth to these claims?

We tested both VPNs side-by-side to determine which has the best features, fastest connections, and most advanced security. In this quick guide, we’ll share the results and explain what they mean.

NordVPN vs Hotspot Shield – Which is best? 

NordVPN is superior to Hotspot Shield in almost every metric. 

NordVPN costs less, has more servers globally, and has better features on both mobile and desktop apps. It’s better at accessing content, has more torrenting features, and offers the most advanced security features.

 Hotspot Shield puts up a good fight with lightning-fast servers in more countries than NordVPN and a decent free plan. Its security and privacy are pretty great, but they just don’t match up to what NordVPN offers.

If you don’t have time to read the whole review, just go for NordVPN. You can try it out risk-free courtesy of a 30-day money-back guarantee on every plan.

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No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Money-back guarantee length 30 days 45 days

NordVPN offers far better value than Hotspot Shield on almost every plan. 

The monthly plan is a bit pricey at $12.99, but this is the same as Hotspot Shield. We’d only recommend this plan if you only need a VPN for a vacation or short trip. However, if you’re considering long-term use, NordVPN’s savings are significant. 

 Hotspot Shield only offers yearly rates split into two categories: individual premium and family premium. The individual premium plan costs $95.99, equivalent to $7.99 per month. It gives you one member account with 10 device connections. 

The family premium plan costs $143.88, or $11.99 monthly. It gives you three member accounts, each with five device connections (25 connections in total).

 NordVPN is more flexible and cheaper. The annual plan costs $68.85 and includes three free extra months. It works out to $4.59 per month. The two-year plan costs $107.73 for 27 months, breaking down to just $3.99 per month. 

That’s half the price of Hotspot Shield’s best plan.

 NordVPN is, without a doubt, the better value option. And, as you’ll see throughout this review, you’ll get much more for your money.

Hotspot Shield has a free plan that’s useful if you’re trying out a VPN for the first time and aren’t willing to spend just yet. However, you’re only connected to one server location and limited to one device. You also have to deal with ads promoting its paid plans and other products. 

You can try both VPNs risk-free using their money-back guarantees. NordVPN gives you 30 days to fully test its features, while Hotspot Shield gives you 45 days.

Winner: NordVPN

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Which has better features? 

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Simultaneous connections 6 5
Total servers 5300 1800
Server locations 60 115
Obfuscation (stealth)

Since NordVPN is the most advanced VPN on the planet, it’s no surprise it’s packed with more features than Hotspot Shield.

Both VPNs have apps for the major operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS), and Linux. Both also have browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge that allow you to protect your browsing activity while leaving other apps connected to your normal network. 

However, only NordVPN is confirmed to work on devices like the Raspberry Pi, Chromebook, and Amazon Fire Stick.

Hotspot Shield also only offers basic VPN functions. You can set it to automatically turn on when you’re using an unsecured network, it has an automatic kill switch that disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops (keeping your data safe), and it has anti-phishing protection to keep out email scammers.

NordVPN, on the other hand, has automatic malware scanning, ad-blocking, and WiFi protections. It has a Dark Web Monitor that alerts you if your private data is being shared or sold online, custom DNS servers that ensure you can’t be tracked when you’re on an untrusted network, and aDouble VPN feature that doubles your security by filtering your connection through two servers in different countries.

NordVPN also offers its patented NordLynx VPN protocol. NordLynx is faster than even WireGuard (the fastest open-source protocol in the industry) without compromising your security. 

One of NordVPN’s latest features, MeshNet, lets you create an encrypted network for file sharing and communications between up to 60 other devices anywhere in the world. This comes in handy if you’re working with people located across the globe.

It was always going to be tough for Hotspot Shield to keep up with NordVPN’s features. And as you’ll see, NordVPN’s industry-leading performance, speed, and security will continue to come out on top.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Are routers supported? 

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Router support

Installing a VPN on your router protects every device connected to the router without needing to install the VPN individually on each one. 

However, it’s more complicated to set up than on any other device, so you’ll need easy-to-follow tutorials and possibly live customer support to get through the process. Also, not all VPNs support router installation.

Luckily, both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have router support. However, they use different VPN protocols (the rules that determine how the connection should be made) on routers, which may affect your overall internet speed if you go this route. 

 NordVPN uses OpenVPN on routers, the current industry standard. It’s secure, reliable, and fast.

Hotspot Shield gives you the option of using either IKEv2 or WireGuard. IKEv2 works best with mobile devices, while WireGuard is the fastest and most secure open-source VPN protocol.

NordVPN recommends using Asus routers which have a built-in OpenVPN client that makes setting up a breeze. You can also manually install its app on routers with custom firmware such as DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWRT, or Merlin. Alternatively, you can buy a pre-configured NordVPN router from FlashRouters or Privacy Hero.

Hotspot Shield only allows manual configuration on custom firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato.

So, while Hotspot Shield might be slightly faster on some routers, NordVPN has a lot more options and is much easier to set up.  

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

What websites do they access? 

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Amazon Prime

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield performed exceptionally well at accessing geo-blocked websites and streaming services. NordVPN just has the edge with a few websites. 

Both can access the major streaming services – Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Disney+, and HBO Max. But only NordVPN was able to access ABC, CBS, and SkyGo. It also has SmartDNS that allows you to access US content on devices that don’t allow VPN installation, like game consoles.

Beyond streaming, both VPNs can access services like banking when you’re in a different country. Most financial apps are geo-locked for security reasons, but changing your IP address to their country of operation could give you access. Hotspot Shield has the advantage here because it’s available in more countries.

Both VPNs can access content in China, one of the most censored and restricted countries in the world. If you’re trying to access blocked sites like YouTube or Facebook from within China, you have to install the VPNs before entering the country because VPN websites are blocked on Chinese networks.

To get through censorship, NordVPN users have to connect to special obfuscated servers that hide the fact that they’re using a VPN. Hotspot Shield users don’t need to do anything different. You just browse normally, and it will work.

So, while it’s easier to use Hotspot Shield in China, NordVPN has better global streaming capabilities and works with more websites, giving it the victory here.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Netflix libraries

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield

NordVPN was able to access every Netflix library we tested. Its SmartDNS meant we could also access global content on devices that don’t allow VPN installation. 

Hotspot Shield worked flawlessly with US and UK Netflix libraries but struggled with others. It didn’t work in Canada, France, and Germany. What’s more, even though the free version connects to US servers, none of the available IP addresses worked with Netflix.

Both VPNs are fast enough to stream Netflix in 4K, and allow streaming on multiple devices. However, we have to go with NordVPN because it can access more Netflix libraries, and it's generally faster than Hotspot Shield.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Torrenting capabilities

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Torrenting allowed?
Dedicated servers?
Port selection

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield support torrenting and P2P sharing. 

NordVPN has specially optimized servers with Socks5 proxy support that can deliver faster, more secure torrenting. They may even access torrenting websites and apps that are restricted in certain regions. It has a strict no-logs policy that ensures your torrenting activities are not recorded on its servers.

To torrent using NordVPN, you can either connect to one of its dedicated P2P servers, which are easier and more secure, or set up a Socks5 proxy on your torrent app, which gives you faster speeds but is less secure since it leaves the rest of your online activities unencrypted.

Hotspot Shield supports P2P on all its servers. It also has a no-logs policy, but it’s based in the US, where there are strict copyright laws, and it can be ordered to retain and hand over your data to authorities (fortunately, it doesn’t store any compromising data).

Both providers encrypt traffic using AES 256-bit encryption, the industry standard, and use automatic kill switches and DNS leak protections to prevent your torrenting activities from being exposed.

However, NordVPN surpasses Hotspot Shield with extra features such as automatic WiFi protection to keep your torrenting hidden on open networks, andNordLynx, a proprietary VPN protocol that offers faster speeds and lower torrenting latency (the time it takes to get a response from the server).

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Setup & usability

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are available on Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux. You can use both on Smart TVs, but only NordVPN can be used with the Fire Stick and other devices like game consoles. 

Both VPNs have browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

Hotspot Shield lets you use it with more devices than NordVPN. It allows up to 10 simultaneous devices on the individual plan compared to NordVPN’s six-device limit. 

Both have easy-to-use apps that are designed to be installed with just a few clicks. You can either let the apps automatically select the fastest servers based on your location or choose from a list (NordVPN even has a map showing the location of the server).

NordVPN gives you access to its special servers like dedicated IP address, Tor over VPN, obfuscated, and Double VPN servers. 

So, while NordVPN offers fewer simultaneous device connections, it includes a much more impressive suite of advanced features than Hotspot Shield – without compromising ease-of-use. 

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Mobile features

No Value NordVPN

Both VPNs’ mobile apps have similar designs and features to their desktop counterparts. They are easy to use and can connect to servers with a single tap.

NordVPN brings over all its security features and adds tapjacking protection, which lets you know if an app is trying to trick you into accidentally tapping a button (often used by hackers and spies). It also lets you choose protocols between OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, andNordLynx, so you can decide between a balance of compatibility, speed, and extra security provided by each protocol. 

It also has aCyberSec tool that protects you from known malware sites, split tunneling (allowing you to keep some functions like mobile banking on your normal network while everything else goes through the VPN), obfuscated servers, custom DNS, a kill switch, and auto-connect.

Hotspot Shield offers its own Catapult Hydra protocol that delivers super-fast download and upload speeds, along with the IKEv2 protocol (although it's slightly slower thanNordLynx). It also has malware protection, split tunneling, a kill switch, and auto-connect.

Both VPNs’ mobile apps give you the option to connect to specialized servers. These could be servers optimized for P2P, gaming, or streaming.

NordVPN manages to bring its most impressive features to the mobile app while remaining simple and intuitive to use. Hotspot Shield’s mobile features just can’t keep up. 

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Performance & speed

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield SpeedTest (average) 85.9 Mbps 48 Mbps
Server locations 60 115
Total servers 5300 1800

NordVPN has one of the largest server networks of any VPN, with over 5,200 servers in more than 60 countries. That means you have more server options should one get overloaded and, therefore, slower.

Hotspot Shield is available in 80+ countries but has less than half of NordVPN’s servers – 1,800+ in total. This means its server network is more likely to get congested with users sharing servers and slowing down connections. 

These two VPNs are among the fastest in the world. They’ve both developed proprietary protocols to boost their speed and efficiency. NordVPN’sNordLynx (an enhancement of WireGuard) proved faster than Hotspot Shield’sCatapult Hydra in both streaming and P2P sharing.

Both VPNs averaged speeds of 197 Mbps, but NordVPN hit a higher max speed of 369 Mbps. Both are more than adequate for gaming and 4K streaming, but we have to give it to NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN


No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Obfuscation (stealth)
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection
Bare-metal servers?
Self-hosted DNS

NordVPN has the most advanced security features on the market. Out of the box, it gives you unique features like Double VPN that doubles your encryption, dark web monitoring, andThreat Protection which combines ad and tracker blocking and malware protection.

It uses the industry standard OpenVPN, along with WireGuard (through NordLynx). You can also manually configure IKEv2 if you think it works better with your mobile devices.

Hotspot Shield uses IKEv2 and WireGuard, along with itsCatapult Hydra protocol, which it claims is over two times faster than OpenVPN for long-distance connections.

Both use AES-256-bit encryption, with a minor difference. Hotspot Shield uses 2048-bit keys, while NordVPN uses 4096-bit keys. This means that NordVPN is more difficult to infiltrate, but 2048-bit will still take tens of years to decrypt using current technology.

Both also have a kill switch and obfuscation to further enhance your security. Obfuscation is especially important in countries like China and the UAE, where VPN use is illegal and could get you arrested.

So while Hotspot Shield’s security is commendable, NordVPN has invested a lot more, and it protects you a lot better.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN


No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Jurisdiction Panama USA
Logs connections
Independently audited?
Anonymous payment options?

Your VPN’s base of locations could prove most important when it comes to your privacy. Countries like the US, which is a member of the Five Eyes global surveillance alliance, are notoriously anti-privacy and could compel a VPN to share your browsing information with the authorities.

So, it's crucial your VPN follows strict "no-logs policies” that prevent it from recording any of your data. 

Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield is based in the US. In contrast, NordVPN is based in Panama, one of the most privacy-friendly places on Earth.

However, both VPNs follow strict no-log policies. NordVPN doesn’t store any user logs, whereas Hotspot Shield keeps limited connection data that can’t be personally identified to you or trace your online activity once the VPN is turned on.

Both VPNs have been independently audited, though we consider NordVPN’s audit to be more thorough. Its entire infrastructure was checked by Deloitte, a reputable auditing firm. 

We can only confirm that NordVPN uses RAM-based servers that wipe your data the moment you end your session. This gives us more confidence in NordVPN’s no-logs policy.

While both VPNs provide adequate privacy, we feel more at ease with the measures NordVPN has taken to protect privacy.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Customer service

No Value NordVPN Hotspot Shield
Free trial Yes - 7 Days Yes - 7 days
Money-back guarantee length 30 days 45 days
Money-back guarantee
24-hour support
Live chat

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have the same avenues for customer support. They both have 24/7 live chat, email and ticketing support, and detailed searchable databases on their websites.

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have chatbots and human agents. If the human agents can’t resolve your issue, you’ll have to email both providers, as neither has contact numbers on their websites.

NordVPN’s email response is fast enough, averaging four hours to reply. Unfortunately, it’s going against one of the most responsive in the business – Hotspot Shield usually takes less than an hour to respond to email queries. 

NordVPN makes up for this by having video guides that you can use to sort out the most common issues. We have to give it to Hotspot Shield, though. Nothing beats timely expert advice.

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Methodology: how we compare VPNs

Every VPN we recommend (and the ones we don’t) go through the same rigorous testing.

We use strict criteria to ensure you make the best decision when buying a VPN. Here are some of the categories we look at:

  • Global server network: The top VPNs have massive networks of secure, speed-optimized servers on every continent except Antarctica. 
  • Fast connections: Every VPN will impact your speed slightly, but you should only notice a tiny difference. Don’t use VPNs that slow your internet to a crawl.
  • Security: Look for VPNs with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, the latest protocols, and other advanced cybersecurity features. 
  • Extra privacy tools: Our favorite VPNs include built-in ad and malware blockers, dark web monitoring, RAM-only servers, and other tools. 
  • Access to content: We test every VPN against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other top streaming to ensure they’re compatible and bypass any censorship. 
  • Value: Premium VPNs don’t have to be expensive. The best offer all their features and unlimited data for low-cost, flexible plans with generous money-back guarantees. 
  • Ease of use: Your VPN should be beginner-friendly on every device, easy to install, and simple to configure. 
  • Customer support: Look for 24/7 live chat with human agents, email support, lively user forums, and YouTube tutorials in case of an issue. 
  • Transparent privacy policies: You should be able to read the VPN's fine print and know exactly how it handles your data. Look for providers with independent audits for further reassurance. 

You can test these VPNs yourself using our VPN review process. Or you can save yourself the trouble and go for NordVPN.


This wasn’t much of a contest – NordVPN is cheaper and has far more advanced features. Hotspot Shield markets itself as the fastest VPN, but even there, NordVPN matches it.

Hotspot Shield has a free plan and servers in more countries. However, NordVPN has a lot more servers and is less likely to get congested. It’s also better at streaming, torrenting, and accessing sites.

You can try NordVPN for yourself risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

And if neither of these VPNs matched what you’re looking for, try some of our other comparisons.

Written by: Conor Walsh

Conor is a tech writer with professional paranoia. He's passionate about privacy, and when not writing about it, can be found trying to get far away from his phone and any other technology, enjoying some live music, outdoorsy stuff, or a good (physical) book.


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